Review of “Hairspray” (2007 film)

A plump girl with blue hair holding up her gloved hands – NOT a representation of any character or element from the movie.

High schooler, Tracy Turnblad, wakes up and happily walks to school during the number, “Good Morning, Baltimore.” While in one of her classes, a boy sitting behind her complains about her blocking his view. The teacher gives her a hard time about that due to her poofy hair.

After school, Tracy and her friend, Penny Pingleton, come across a local teen dance TV show, The Corny Collins Show and watch it at Tracy’s house. But her mom, Edna, overhears the show and tells her that she doesn’t want her to try out for it.

Later, Penny’s harsh mom finds her and bans her from the Turnblad household. After Edna continues to tell her that dancing on a show isn’t the right choice for her, Tracy runs up to her room. Her dad allows her to follow her dream.

The next day, Tracy encounters a boy from her school and The Corny Collins Show, Link Larkin, and develops strong feelings for him. She expresses them during the number, “I Can Hear the Bells.”

Link is also in a relationship with a girl, Amber von Tussle, who is snooty to others, especially Tracy since she’s overweight. After two people leave The Corny Collins Show, Tracy and Penny go to audition. Amber and her mother, Velma, who is also snobby, shame Tracy for her body.

At school, Amber draws a picture of the teacher in an inappropriate manner and blames Tracy. The teacher sends Tracy to detention–which is filled with black students who are having fun. She meets a boy, named Seaweed, whom Penny also falls in love with. They want to hang out together and rebel against the segregation laws in Maryland.

However, because blacks need to have different shows from whites, Seaweed, Penny, and Tracy can’t perform together on any show. They want people of different races to integrate, which is hard to convince the general public to accept.

This movie kept my interest all the way through, especially with the fun, upbeat, musical numbers and superb dancing, which often happened every few minutes. Not only did they excite me, but they expressed the music trends from the 1960s, when the story takes place.

I found this ironic, especially because the film had less conflict than other stories and not as intense. But the songs kept the movie intriguing to the point where it went by in a snap. More time seemed to have passed than I thought when I watched it.

While on the topic of excitement, I found it interesting that detention was filled with dancing and fun–thus not a punishment, even though that is what the teachers intended. There is even a scene where Tracy gets detention, and Link says something inappropriate to join her. I actually found that to be oddly considerate.

The characters’ relations to each other pleased me a lot. One is between Tracy and Edna, who was funny when she was annoyed at Tracy for wanting to try out for The Corny Collins Show. She is also hilarious at other times, such as when sweets distract her from the diet she has to follow. What I admire most is her relationship with Tracy and how sweet it was.

With Penny, however, her mom is harsh and goes to extreme levels at times. She forbids her around Tracy outside of school. One time, she catches her with Tracy while helping her hide from trouble she unintentionally caused and ties her to her bed as a permanent punishment. That made me hate Mrs. Pingleton even more.

And when Seaweed untied her and freed her, that made me feel better. I especially admired Penny having a relationship with a black boy.

Despite the historically accurate segregation laws between blacks and whites during the south in the 1960s, I rooted for the black community to let them integrate with the whites, and the whites to do the same. I particularly felt sorry for Tracy, when Seaweed’s mother, Maybelle, discouraged her from joining the march for equality. Yet she did it anyway, and I supported that.

I applaud the creators of this story for having a plump girl be the main character as someone many can relate to, especially those who struggle with body image. I can also relate to her for when she looked at the clock during her classes to count down when they would end. I was like that in high school too.

Like her mom, Tracy can also be funny. One notable moment happens during the number, “I Can Hear the Bells.” She makes a bridal veil and bouquet out of toilet paper.

More twists and turns occur throughout the movie, including some occasional mature language, despite its PG rating. I think the film is best for those 12 and up–maybe a little younger, depending on the kids’ maturity levels.

As an adult, though, that was no issue for me. I give “Hairspray” 5 out of 5 stars.

Published by Sunayna Prasad

I enjoy writing stories, creating artwork, watching movies and TV shows, cooking, and traveling. These are the topics of my posts. I also publish books, where you can learn about them on my website, Be sure to copy and paste the link and subscribe to my newsletter on the email list button on the homepage.

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